LaVar Ball is sort of a new-age Vince McMahon, building a brand through (mostly) created controversy and the power of his mouth.
To Ball, every interview seems to be an opportunity to grow his image.
He got into a heated argument with a female national sports reporter earlier this month, told her to “stay in your lane” and was labeled a sexist. Ball’s response? Create a T-shirt with “Stay In Yo Lane” emblazoned across the front.
Through all of this Ball has literally built an athletic brand, and sold at least 500 pairs of some ridiculously overpriced $495 sneakers. Next month, his oldest son, Lonzo, will become an NBA millionaire, likely going first in the NBA Draft to the Celtics, or second to the Lakers. His second son, LiAngelo, will enroll at UCLA next fall, and his baby boy, LaMelo has scored more than 90 points in a high school game. He’ll be a junior next year at Chino Hills (CA) High.
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But Ball’s bravado and mouth are beginning to affect his prized possessions, as people begin to celebrate their failures and generally over-analyze their games.
Last week, LaVar Ball’s AAU team lost 109-57 to the Compton Magic. Never mind that LaVar’s team was not supposed to be a match for the Magic, a longtime national travel ball power, but social media and some TV sport shows couldn’t wait to jump on Ball’s failure -- but some also pounded LaMelo as well. LaMelo is the star player on his father’s team.
Following a workout with the Lakers last week, Lonzo’s former UCLA teammate Bryce Alford said Father Ball gives his oldest son a reputation he doesn’t deserve.
"It’s just an unfair thing for Lonzo just because I think he gets a rep he doesn’t deserve,” Alford said. “And I don’t want to say anything poorly against LaVar, I think he’s done a good job of getting him ready to be where he’s at and he’s helped him become a great basketball player. So, I don’t want to say anything that way, but he does get a persona that’s just totally not him. He’s an absolutely great kid, great teammate and truly cares about what his teammates are doing more so than himself. So if anything, I hope NBA people can see that."
By many published media accounts, LaVar Ball is a great father. Perhaps he’s gotten a little too excited with his 15 minutes of fame, but any good father should know when it’s time to stop, when you’ve maybe gone from helping to hurting.
From where we sit, it’s time for LaVar to take a step back and let his three Big Ballers take three steps forward.